Q&A with Mike Preston



Sun columnist answers questions about the Ravens' loss to the Bears

Larry, Baltimore: Never have I seen such a pathetic display of pro football. Where are the players? We have an all-star team on paper. However, they play like they've all had lobotomies. Blame Kyle Boller? No. Blame Compucoach. More bonehead penalties, inept offense. I'm done. I'll never watch another game until they get a new coach and players.

Mike Preston: Compu Coach? Where did you get that name? A genius must have invented it. Maybe I'll borrow it one day for a column. Watch your back now, Larry. You're in the fraternity. Once you call him Compu Coach, he'll say you're trying to get him fired, that you have an "agenda." He'll say you fabricate, or take things out of context, or that he didn't say it but he really did say it. I don't know if the Ravens will fire Billick. It depends on how they end the season, and if morale is high. But the media doesn't get coaches fired, wins and losses do, as well as bonehead penalties and an inept offense.

Larry, I do need to caution you about the "lobotomies" stuff. Isn't that a tad harsh? Terrell Suggs doesn't have a thinking problem, he's just a "marked man." Another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty? Nah, Patrick Johnson, of all people, was just in the wrong spot at the wrong time. The other guy punched him first. Anyway Larry, it's just a game. It's been nice knowing you. I guess you won't be writing anytime soon since you'll never watch another game until they get a new coach and players. Have a nice life.

Shawn, Owings Mills: Watching Jamal Lewis, he seems to doubt his own ability to run with the authority he has run with throughout his career. On one occasion, he started dancing in the backfield with only one defender in front of him where in past seasons he would just run to the outside and try a stiff-arm. He seems to be dancing more and more instead of just hitting the hole hard. Is it lack of confidence, or is his ankle not as healthy as he'd like us to believe?

Mike Preston: It's about the Benjamins, baby. I wrote that earlier in the year and took a lot of criticism for it. Now it's interesting because former Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary says the same thing. When the Ravens, according to Jamal Lewis, broke their promise about giving him a contract extension before the start of the 2005 season, it took away his passion and intensity for running the ball. Basically these guys who perform at such a high level are saying: I'll put it on the line for you, tear up my body and risk injury, but you have to compensate me for it. There has to be a trust factor. It didn't happen, and Lewis has become just another running back. He's not finished. He's just not motivated to play like the old Lewis. Running backs worry more about their contracts than most other players because their careers are so short.

Darien, Germantown: Chester Taylor received no running plays until seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. He's been averaging more yards per carry than Jamal Lewis, and he's been a more productive back yet Billick continues to favor Jamal, and this week was even more lopsided than in the past. What is going on?

Mike Preston: The media and fans have forced Chester Taylor to the bench. We've all suggested that he get more playing time because Lewis is struggling, but the more we suggest it, the more Billick resists. It's like in 2000 when everyone said run the ball instead of throwing it, and it took Billick three quarters of the year to adjust. It's like when we all suggested he play Randall Cunningham over Elvis Grbac, and the Ravens died with Mr. Tearful.

So, as of today, I'm suggesting Billick stay with Jamal Lewis. Fans should write letters to the newspaper, call in to talk radio and get behind Billick playing Jamal Lewis all the time. Today, we're launching psychological warfare.

Matt, Mountville, Pa.: Mike, it's clear that the Ravens can't run the ball with Jamal Lewis. Whether it's because teams crowd the line or he's lost a step is still up for debate. Do you think there is any chance that he gets a new contract, because I'm hoping we go in a different direction.

Mike Preston: OK folks, let's not get carried away with beating up on Jamal Lewis. Have you taken a look at the offensive line lately? It's a sorry group. The only one that has played with any consistency is left tackle Jonathan Ogden. Other than that, the group looks old and slow. It's hard to evaluate Lewis playing behind this offensive line. I don't want Taylor in because I think he is that much better than Lewis. I want Taylor in hoping he can provide some kind of spark. It's too early in the season to say what the Ravens should do with Lewis. I thought if he played reasonably well this season, the Ravens would franchise him. If they continue to lose, maybe he won't want to play here any longer at the end of the season. Maybe they still might want to franchise him. Let the season play out, and we'll go from there.

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